In the horrific case of the 15-year-old girl who was raped and murdered in Maharashtra's Ahmednagar, it's not known if the girl had filed a case against her stalker. Though even if she had, as we've pointed out before, it's not like it would have meant the man would have been frightened off in any way.
Hopelessly unenforced, though we have a new anti-stalking law, it doesn't really amount to much when it comes to protecting women. Could the victim have hoped for swift action if she had filed a complaint with the police?
The case of the Rohtak girl is even worse. She was raped in 2013 by the same accused who allegedly gangraped her again. The alleged reason? They accused tried to get her to withdraw the case and even offered money but when she refused to, they allegedly abducted her and gangraped her.
The three men are basically still awaiting the verdict of a process that began three years ago. Even on that occasion they were accused of exactly the same crime. It has taken three years for a court to come to a decision on as heinous a crime as gangrape, and they were out on bail.
If the case had ended, either as a conviction or as an acquittal, the second case of gangrape could perhaps have been prevented. The reason the second case has taken place is because the criminal justice has still to come to a decision on the 2013 case and the five accused believed that they could subvert it even now.
Both cases are terrible examples of how all our outrage over safety for women comes to nothing if the criminal justice system can't act against those who are accused. The conviction rate in India for rape cases is just 28 percent, but is much higher in cases of Scheduled Caste women, says the National Crime Records Bureau data for 2014. But as the Haryana case shows, the conviction rate can amount to little if the cases are disposed too late.
It's not like rape and gangrape cases can't be disposed off quickly. Fast track courts for crimes against women have been known to start and complete trials within months and if when there's adequate outrage, even in days. In the case of the 2012 Delhi gangrape case, the Supreme Court is sitting extra hours just to deliver justice.
Both cases are a wake up call for just how seriously we still need to take crimes against women. We have the laws and systems in place, but unless they work, they don't matter to those who need them the most.